Most people wonder how bad it can be when they get a first offense DUI in Arizona. However, DUI laws in Arizona are known to be the strictest (by far) in the United States. As a result, most people are shocked to realize that a first offense can be pretty bad.
In this series of five blog installments, we are going to be talking about the five charges that can arise in first offense DUIs.
Don't Let the Name Fool You - Misdemeanor Charges:
Anyone charged with a DUI will almost always receive the charge of:
A.R.S. Section 28-1381 (A) (1): Impaired to the slightest degree
This is the charge that we are focusing on first. Section 28-1381(A)(1) is a catch-all charge because no specific blood alcohol content (BAC) is required. Most people incorrectly believe that there is a distinct line drawn at a BAC of .08, where a person with a BAC of .079 is considered innocent and a person with a BAC of .08 is considered guilty. Not so.
In fact, so many people believe this that they do not think the following scenarios could lead to them to be charged with DUI under Section 28-1381(A)(1).
Say you are leaving your dentist's office a little groggy and drive home. Under the law, you were considered to be driving under the influence, and could be guilty of a DUI under Section 28-1381(A)(1).
Say you take any medication for that back injury of yours. If you take that medicine and drive, you can, under certain circumstances, be found guilty of a DUI under Section 28-1381(A)(1).
Say you drink, and have a BAC of .06 (which is below the legal limit), and then get in the car and drive. Under those circumstances, you can be found guilty of a DUI under Section 28-1381(A)(1).
The reality is that if the Prosecutor can prove that you were:
a. Driving, and
b. You were "impaired to the slightest degree" after consuming any alcohol, drug (illegal or legal), or vapor...
Then you can be found guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor under this statute (Section 28-1381(A)(1)).
What does a conviction mean?
The unfortunate surprise that many first offense clients learn is that a Class 1 Misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $2,500.00. In reality, though, there are guidelines that are followed.
The minimum that any court can impose upon conviction (or offer in a plea agreement) is: (1) ten days in jail, nine of which can be suspended, (2) $1,250.00 in fines, (3) additional fees, (4) and even more in surcharges, (5) mandatory attendance at an alcohol screening, and (6) having an ignition interlock installed in your car for twelve months.
And this is just for your first offense. After that, the penalties become harsher.